07/13/2013 6:21PM

Arlington Park: Ausus gets first stakes win in Modesty Handicap

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Four Footed Fotos
Dark Cove, with Rosie Napravnik aboard, won the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes by 1 3/4 lengths Saturday.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – The three favorites in the Modesty Handicap failed to fire, but 8-1 Ausus stepped forward, parlaying a perfect trip under James Graham into the first stakes win of her career Saturday at Arlington Park.

Ausus saved ground on both turns of the 1 3/16-mile grass race, with Graham only leaving the fence in the stretch to let Ausus make her final move. It was a good one, too, as Ausus ran down the pacesetting favorite, La Tia, and Artemus Kitten to win the Grade 3, $200,000 Modesty by 2 1/4 lengths.

Artemus Kitten got second by a head over La Tia. Strathnaver, the 5-2 second choice, barely lifted her hooves, finishing last of eight, and Colonial Flag, the 9-2 third choice, came home sixth.

Ausus, a 4-year-old Invasor filly bred and owned by Hamdan al Maktoum’s Shadwell Farm, ran well over the winter at Fair Grounds, where she finished second in a listed stakes to Grade 1 winner Daisy Devine, and was beaten one length on Polytrack last out in the Grade 3 Arlington Matron.

Trainer Dan Peitz was eager to return Ausus to turf, which he believes to be her best surface, and to race Ausus over the longest distance she’s yet gotten in the Modesty. It all came together ideally.

“We finally got a stakes with her; Now, the Beverly D.,” Peitz said, referring to the Grade 1 race here Aug. 17.

The Illinois-bred La Tia did not disgrace herself in defeat, holding decently for third after setting splits of 23.81 seconds for her first quarter-mile, 48.38 for the half, and 1:12.12 for six furlongs. But on this day, she was no match for Ausus, who was timed in 1:53.94 over a fast-playing course.

Dark Cove wins Stars and Stripes

Dark Cove, claimed for $50,000 in April 2012, won his third straight graded turf stakes over 1 1/2 miles when he captured the Grade 3, $150,000 Stars and Stripes by 1 3/4 lengths.

Dark Cove was timed in 2:27.39 on a fast-playing, firm course to set an Arlington turf-course record. He was ridden by Rosie Napravnik, who was making her Arlington debut.

Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker claimed Dark Cove for $50,000 two Aprils ago, and though Dark Cove ($3.20) didn’t race for 10 months afterward, the claim has been an excellent one. In April, Dark Cove won the Grade 2 Elkhorn at Keeneland, and in May, he won the Grade 3 Louisville at Churchill, victories that made Dark Cove the 3-5 favorite in the Stars and Stripes.

Dark Cove broke on top but quickly ceded the lead to Ioya Bigtime, who set solid splits of 48.47 for a half-mile and 1:12.80 for six furlongs, with Dark Cove tracking in second.

Napravnik made her move midway around the far turn, going up to collar Ioya Bigtime, and Dark Cove, finishing steadily, had plenty left to hold clear decent runs from the Illinois-breds Suntracer and The Pizza Man, who finished second and third, separated by a nose.

“This is a really cool horse,” Napravnik said. “He’s very responsive.”

* Duplicating the finish in the 2012 Arlington-Washington Futurity, Pataky Kid ran down Muppet Man to win the $65,000 Coach Jimi Lee Stakes for 3-year-olds on Polytrack. Pataky Kid ($15.40) was ridden to victory by Eddie Castro for trainer Tom Proctor and owner Swifty Farms.